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Among the projects he questioned were $18 million in tax credits that helped Chobani, a hip Greek yogurt company, buy new equipment to keep up with the rapidly growing demand for its product, and an ethanol company that got $20 million in investment thanks to the tax credit but then filed for bankruptcy three years later.

Then there was $40 million in tax credits that went to Wells Fargo and SunTrust banks to help invest in a dolphin tank at the world’s largest aquarium in Atlanta, Mr. Coburn said. The aquarium charges $65 a ticket to see the dolphins, and the head veterinarian made $363,035 in 2010. Meanwhile, the area is hardly the type of downtrodden place the credit was designed for — local condominiums go for $1 million, the senator reported.

“Clearly, this project did not need federal financial assistance and is unlikely to have any noticeable benefit for lower-income Americans, who likely cannot even afford to take in the dolphin encounter,” he said.